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  • Science Ticker

    New spending bill mostly boosts money for science research

    After some initial waffling, President Trump signed a budget bill March 23 that lays out spending details for the rest of fiscal year 2018, which goes through September. The $1.3-trillion spending deal boosts funding for nearly all science agencies, avoiding cuts the White House had proposed.

    These increases stem largely from February’s budget deal, which raised caps on discretionary...

    03/23/2018 - 18:35 Science & Society
  • News

    Why science still can’t pinpoint a mass shooter in the making

    Immediately after a 19-year-old shot and killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at a Florida high school on Valentine’s Day, people leaped to explain what had caused the latest mass slaughter.

    By now, it’s a familiar drill: Too many readily available guns. Too much untreated mental illness. Too much warped masculinity. Don’t forget those shoot-’em-up video games and movies. Add (or...

    03/23/2018 - 11:46 Science & Society, Psychology, Mental Health
  • Science Ticker

    Atacama mummy’s deformities were unduly sensationalized

    By analyzing the genome of a tiny fetal mummy known as Ata, researchers have learned more about what led to its strange-looking deformities — and that Ata was not an it, but a she.

    The 6-inch human mummy, found in 2003 in Chile’s Atacama Desert, contains genetic mutations associated with skeletal abnormalities and joint problems, researchers report online March 22 in Genome Research....

    03/22/2018 - 14:54 Genetics, Anthropology
  • Editor's Note

    Why it’s great to have a geologist in the house

    Science has a way of surprising us when we least expect it. Like with mud rocks.

    We science journalists can be a cranky lot, eternally skeptical as to whether a touted advance is really significant enough to warrant coverage. So when Science News’ managing editor Erin Wayman waxed enthusiastic about a study explaining how ancient plants may have played a key role in making Earth...

    03/22/2018 - 10:19 Science & Society, Earth, Plants
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers ponder children’s pretend play, planetary dust storms and more

    Flight of fantasy

    Similar to their hunter-gatherer counterparts, many children in Western societies prefer play that mimics the things that adults do, Bruce Bower reported in “When it’s playtime, many kids prefer reality over fantasy" (SN: 2/17/18, p. 22). But fantasy play may still be valuable.

    Reader Pat Rapp wondered about the implications of an experiment that showed that...

    03/22/2018 - 10:18 Anthropology, Technology, Planetary Science
  • The Science Life

    Kids are starting to picture scientists as women

    Ask a classroom of children to draw a scientist, and you’ll see plenty of Crayola-colored lab coats, goggles and bubbling beakers. That image hasn’t changed much since the 1960s. But the person wearing the lab coat is shifting.

    A new analysis finds that more female scientists have appeared in kids’ drawings in recent decades — going from nearly nonexistent in the 1960s to about a third...

    03/20/2018 - 11:27 Science & Society
  • Science Ticker

    First pedestrian death from a self-driving car fuels safety debate

    The first known pedestrian fatality involving a fully autonomous self-driving car will most likely raise questions about the vehicles’ safety.

    But “until we know what happened, we can’t really know what this incident means” for the future of self-driving vehicles, says Philip Koopman, a robotics safety expert at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Only when we know more about the...

    03/19/2018 - 18:24 Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Science & Society
  • Television

    Will Smith narrates ‘One Strange Rock,’ but astronauts are the real stars

    View the trailer

    “The strangest place in the whole universe might just be right here.” So says actor Will Smith, narrating the opening moments of a new documentary series about the wonderful unlikeliness of our own planet, Earth.

    One Strange Rock, premiering March 26 on the National Geographic Channel, is itself a peculiar and unlikely creation. Executive produced by Academy Award–...

    03/18/2018 - 07:00 Earth, Astronomy, Science & Society
  • Science & the Public

    What we can and can’t say about Arctic warming and U.S. winters

    It certainly feels like the northeastern United States is getting snowier.

    In the first two weeks of March, three winter storms slammed into the northeast corridor from Washington, D.C., to Boston. Over the last decade, a flurry of extreme winter storms has struck the region, giving birth to clever portmanteau names such as Snowpocalypse (2009), Snowmageddon (2010) and Snowzilla (2016...

    03/16/2018 - 09:00 Science & Society, Climate
  • News

    Ancient climate shifts may have sparked human ingenuity and networking

    Dramatic shifts in the East African climate may have driven toolmaking advances and the development of trading networks among Homo sapiens or their close relatives by the Middle Stone Age, roughly 320,000 years ago. That’s the implication of discoveries reported in three papers published online March 15 in Science.

    Newly excavated Middle Stone Age tools and red pigment chunks from...

    03/15/2018 - 14:48 Anthropology, Human Evolution